AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) — An intoxicated driver fleeing police plowed his car into a crowd at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, killing two people, authorities said early Thursday.
The man and woman killed were riding their light motorcycles, said Art Acevedo, chief of the Austin Police Department.
At least 23 others were hospitalized, some with multiple internal injuries. Most of the victims were in their 20s, said Dr. Christopher Ziebell, medical director at the University Medical Center Brackenridge emergency department.
“A few of the cases are quite severe,” Ziebell said during a news conference, adding that he has concerns about the two most critical patients.
He further said that it was fortunate the incident occurred so close to the hospital, and he applauded the Travis County paramedics, who had just undergone training for a similar scenario, for their response.
A suspect is in custody and faces two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault by vehicle, Acevedo said.
Before the incident, the man was driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street. Authorities attempted to stop the car, but it sped off, almost hitting an officer, according to Acevedo.
The car later ran into the crowd.
“It looked like something out of a movie,” said Russ Barone, who was at the festival. “A few people lying on the street … with their friends around them trying to get them up, trying to get them back to life. Hopefully, they are.”
He said the scene was grisly, with people bleeding in the streets.
“I’ve never seen nothing like it. I felt like I was at a war or something,” Barone said. “I was down here for the music … we were having the best time ever. And then it turned into the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Pablo Vazquez was also at the event when the suspect drove past him.
“The car barely missed me … I was less than a foot away,” Vazque told CNN’s New Day. “I saw some folks die.”
It kept moving forward, swerving to hit victims and even ramming into a taxi at one point, he said.
Photos and video posted to social media showed people sprawled on a street for about a block with first responders kneeling over them. In one instance, they’re seen performing CPR.
Witnesses on a YouTube video said the car sped through the crowd, tossing some victims into the air and knocking others down.
Acevedo urged those posting videos on social media to turn them over to authorities instead.
South by Southwest is an annual event that features film, interactive and music festivals, and draws crowds to the Texas capital every year.